ARARAT Wind Farm’s 75-turbine site, the third largest in Australia, has officially finished construction and now has the ability to power 120,000 homes.
Premier Daniel Andrews, federal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan, Victorian Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio attended an opening ceremony at the wind farm site.
Mr Andrews said he wanted to thank the schoolchildren in particular for their performance at the ceremony.
“It reminds us all that this project is very much about the future, it’s about empowering the most creative among us, those that are all about solving problems and finding opportunities within challenges.
“It’s great to see so many kids here, this is perhaps more for you than anybody else.”
Mr Andrews said the wind farm had tangible benefits through its construction and operation, which would generate up to 240 megawatts.
“This is a local community that is proud, and should be proud, of the contribution they have made to our state,” he said.
“But you can do more, so much more, when you have got governments that are your side, when you have got governments that are prepared to work hard to make things possible.
“I want to acknowledge the federal government- through some of their policy decisions they have made we are in a good strong position as a state government to again set our own renewable energy target to work together to make some of these investments possible.”
ACT Member for Brindabella Mick Gentleman also attended, as the Ararat Wind Farm would power 37,000 homes in Canberra as part of the city’s renewable energy target.
Mr Andrews thanked the ACT government for purchasing electricity contracts for the Ararat Wind Farm and farmers for supplying their land for the project.
Member for Wannon Dan Tehan said projects like the Ararat Wind Farm were all about the partnerships.
“If we can get the partnerships right, we produce very good outcomes,” he said.
“18 months ago we were here and we turned the first sod. We knew there was going to be $450 million of investment going into this project but we did not know what that would entail.
“We do know now: 600 jobs, 350 direct and 250 indirect. We have seen local contractors and earth-movers get work out of this farm.
Mr Tehan said people at Portland’s Keppel Prince Engineering had also been employed as a result of the project.
Ararat Rural City Mayor Paul Hooper said he would “leave it to the professionals” and keep his speech “short and sweet”.
“To have an investment of this size in our municipality contributed more than $40m to our local economy,” he said.
“More important to me was that it drought-proofed a number of farming communities.’
Cr Hooper said the company behind the wind farm, RES Australia, had been a fantastic corporate citizen.
“They have gone out of their way to engage with members of the community and to consult over a long period of time.”
RES Australia chief operating officer Matt Rebbeck announced that the company would fund $65,000 worth of grants this year across Northern Grampians and Pyrenees shires and Ararat Rural City.
“The sustainable grants program’s aim is to provide to opportunities to develop innovative and sustainable projects, to provide the opportunity for improve health and education, to strengthen community connections and social wellbeing and to encourage healthy and active communities,” Mr Rebbeck said.
“We very much look forward to seeing what projects are submitted.”
Tim Shea produces wool and fat lambs at his property north-east of Ararat and the wind farm incorporates some of his land.
Mr Shea said he was glad to see construction end.
“It’s been two years. There’s been quite a lot of disruption to the roads,” he said.
Mr Shea said the project had been good for the community overall and RES Australia’s commitment for yearly community grants would be great for the region.